Tuesday, August 11, 2009

IN TIMES OF STRESS, ONE (AT LEAST THIS ONE) TENDS TO RETREAT TO SOMETHING FAMILIAR AND COMFORTING. My viewing matter tends to veer away from intellectually and artistically challenging films and instead go towards things like umpteenth viewings of THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW, ALL IN THE FAMILY or KATE AND ALLIE. Maybe that explains my sudden impulse a week ago to buy the two volumes of SATURDAY MORNING CARTOONS of the 1960s & 1970s. These are two double disc dvds which collect cartoons many of which I haven't scene for a quarter of a century. The only time I willingly awoke early in the morning was on Saturdays when I was a kid because that's when all the great cartoons were on and I didn't want to miss them. Is this a uniquely American phenomenon? I don't know if they had the same ritual of Saturday morning cartoons in the more civilized countries but here in the U.S. of Ayyyyyyyy we kids woke up earlier, tore downstairs in our pajamas, poured ourselves a big bowl of the sugariest cereal we could find and turned on one of the three major networks to see our favourite Saturday morning ONLY cartoons! I recall that this cartoon avalanche lasted until early afternoon when the last good show on would be THE LAND OF THE LOST. After that, the lousy networks would stop the cartoons and put on some lame sports program with golf or something. Then it was time to change the channel from VHF to UHF and decide whether to watch horror host Dr. Shock's Mad Theater and Horror Theater on Channel 17 or Creature Double Feature on Channel 48.
But back to the Saturday morning cartoons and the dvds in question. The first of the pair I watched was, of course, SATURDAY MORNING CARTOONS 1970s and I'll tell you cuz why. I was a kid during the 70's so these were the ones I REALLY watched on Saturday mornings. The 1960s dvd, while containing fantastic cartoons I watched as well, had long before gone into syndication so I saw them every weekday after school (or when I was home sick). I know it's a subtle difference but those of you out there of the same age can relate, I'm sure.
So what about the 1970s cartoon dvd. Well, it's full of those cartoons which I parked myself in front of the TV every Saturday morning to see: The Jetsons, The Batman/Tarzan Adventure Hour (I watched Batman and tuned out for Tarzan), Hong Kong Phooey (number one super guy), Goober and the Ghost Chasers (a Scooby-Doo knock-off which I freely admit to never having seen before), Speed Buggy, Wheelie and the Chopper Bunch (I never liked THAT either), Yogi's Gang (the one where Yogi and practically ever other Hanna-Barbera funny animal character flew around in that ark), The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan (voiced by Keye Luke himself), The Roman Holidays (Never even HEARD of this Flintstones knockoff in ancient Rome and I wish I hadn't now!), Josie and the Pussycats, The New Scooby-Doo Movies (the ones with a guest star each episode), and The Funky Phantom. The goofiest part is that I actually remember seeing this specific episode of Josie and the Pussycats (the one with a Captain Nemo-type zipping around in a submarine playing Bach's Toccata and Fugue on the organ) and the Scooby-Doo guest-starring the Harlem Globetrotters! This 1970s set also includes fine mini-documentaries on The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan as well as The Funky Phantom. Oh, and there's something hilarious printed on the outside cover of the dvd: on the back it says: "Saturday Morning Cartoons - The 1970s is intended for the Adult Collector and is Not Suitable for Children". Now, what is THAT all about?!?!? These are the same cartoons that were shown SPECIFICALLY for children back in the day, weren't they??? Were they Illuminati-controlled broadcasts back then???
On to the SATURDAY MORNING CARTOONS 1960s disc. As I said, these weren't experienced by me on Saturday mornings but instead were on Monday through Friday intermittently throughout the 70's. Most of these Hanna-Barbera funny animal cartoons were to be found on the late, lamented UHF station Channel 48 (1965-1983). So this dvd brings back childhood memories of a different sort: UHF viewing either after school or when home sick in bed (or at least I purported to be sick when I stayed home). Here we find a nice mix of Hanna-Barbera funny animals as well as the more serious adventure-oriented cartoons. The list includes: Top Cat, Atom Ant, Precious Pups, The Hillbilly Bears, The Peter Potamus Show, Secret Squirrel, Squiddly Diddly, Winsome Witch, The Flintstones, The Porky Pig Show, Quick Draw McGraw, Snooper & Blabber, Augie Doggie & Doggie Daddy, The Jetsons, Marine Boy, Space Ghost, Dino Boy, The Herculoids, Frankenstein Jr. & the Impossibles and The Magilla Gorilla Show with Punkin Puss & Ricochet Rabbit. The dvd also includes an entire bonus episode of The Quick Draw McGraw Show (this time featuring El Kabong) as well as a pair of fine mini-docs on The Herculoids and Frankenstein Jr. & the Impossibles.
The fact that each of these two DVD sets has "Volume 1" plastered on the cover gave me the hope that Warner Bros. is going to treat us with more dvds in the future. And lo and behold -- THEY ARE. I've just learned that Warner Bros. is releasing a second volume of both 1960s and 1970s on October 27th that will include more of the same as well as stuff like The Banana Splits, Penelope Pitstop, Shazzan and Tom and Jerry. There's nothing like sitting back to six hours of mind-numbing cartoons (on EACH dvd set) for chasing away the reality blues! And just in case you think I've gotten this nostalgia bug totally out of my system . . . BEWARE!!!! I just bought the Season One dvd of ROOM 222!!! I'll be on Denise Nicholas overload!


Weaverman said...

I've not even read this post yet but I had to comment and say what a relief it was to log in this morning and find that Cerpts is back! Thought that you'd been kidnapped by Fu Manchu or some other evil genius. Saturday morning cartoons have never really played a significant part in my life but recently I've found myself watching old SUPERMAN cartoons and old POPEYE adventures.
You've seen so many good films recently that it would be a shame if you stopped writing about movies.

Cerpts said...

Kidnapped, no. But Fu DID ring my doorbell and run once last week so I'm wary.

Thanks for the kind words and it's nice to know that I'm missed by my legion of reader when I'm absent for a while. Here's hoping that I'll be getting back on track shortly with more spontaneous rounds of indifference about movies and what have you.